Marketing may put the public face on the brand, it is the staff who must live the brand every day. Great credit union brands are built with a triangle approach:  management, staff, and members. In an ideal world management leads the brand, staff lives the brand and members love the brand.

In many cases, effective brands fail at the staff level because of that gap between the brand and staff. Successful brands involve staff at every level. Financial institutions doing branding must conduct brand training with their staff and develop brand standards for their staff.

Credit Union Of Texas ($1.2 billion, Dallas, TX) recently rebranded their credit union. As part of that rebrand, they took each staff member through brand training—almost 300 employees.

“We wanted all of our people buying into our new brand,” said Chris Lederer, vice president of marketing and brand management. “The training gave employees the opportunity to understand the critical role they play—from frontline to support staff. Branding is not just about marketing—it’s about how staff delivers that brand to our members and each other every day.”

What are some ways your credit union or bank can bridge the brand gap between marketing and staff? Consider these options:

  • Communicate the brand daily—What is not talked about is not lived. If you are not talking about your brand at every opportunity, don’t expect your staff to deliver on its promises. At every meeting (staff, branch, department, etc.) take at least 5 minutes to talk about what your bank or credit union’s brand is. Talk about your vision, you values, your mission, etc. But talk about it at every opportunity.
  • Conduct brand training—It’s not enough just to talk about the brand: you have to train to it as well. They will only live what you teach. While sales and service training is important those training techniques rarely teach the essence of your financial institution, your vision and the key role employees play. Educate your staff on brand training throughout the year.
  • Collect brand stories—Branding is about telling stories. Because most marketers and executives are no longer on the front line, the best way to gather those stories is from your staff. Your credit union or bank are not just making loans, taking deposits or conducting transactions. You are facilitating dreams, helping others and impacting the community. So collect stories on a regular basis.

Branding at the staff level does not happen by osmosis. You must communicate the brand, train to the brand and tell stories about the brand.